30 June 2009

Ancestry.com advertising paints heartwarming portrait, no black sheep

I noticed a CNN ad for Ancestry.com last evening, part of a new advertising push detailed in this press release. It describes a series of "heartwarming" stories found by Ancestry subscribers:

  • A New Yorker Finds Answers about His Father - Alton Woodman (White Plains, N.Y.) never knew much about his dad, who passed away when Alton was just 14 years old. Turning to Ancestry.com, Alton found his father in a 1920 census record as a 14-year-old himself, and discovered that he was attending an orphanage. To help connect the dots, Alton got in touch with a representative from the orphanage and received a package that offered a more complete picture of his father's childhood.
  • One Man Discovers His Great Grandfather was a War Hero - Cary Christopher (Pittsburgh and San Diego) always wondered about his German great grandfather, who disappeared after a short-lived marriage to Cary's great grandmother ended in divorce. After 40 years of futile searching, Cary discovered his great grandfather in a World War I draft registration card on Ancestry.com. It turned out his great grandfather had immigrated to the United States before World War I, became a U.S. citizen and rose to the rank of Captain in the U.S. Merchant Marines, where he was killed by a torpedo fired by a German submarine during World War II.
  • South Florida Man Connects Father to His Own Mother - Jim Lane's (Key Biscayne, Fla.) father never knew his mother, who died when he was an infant. Through historical records and member connection services on Ancestry.com, Jim discovered relatives who sent him pictures of his grandmother, and for the first time, Jim's father was able to see a photograph of his mother.
  • Chicago Cook Meets Like-Minded Cousin - When caterer Peggy McDowell (Chicago) began researching the cooking talent in her family tree, she had no idea she would end up going into business with a long-lost cousin. Through searching records on Ancestry.com, she connected with her cousin, who also shares her passion for cooking. Together, they're opening a soul food restaurant in Chicago's Hyde Park.
  • Washington Woman Confirms Father's Passing - Cathryn Darling (Olympia, Wash.) had many unanswered questions about her father, who had disappeared when she was eight years old after her parent's divorce. After searching obituary records on Ancestry.com, Cathryn learned her father died as a fisherman while at sea in Oregon in 1970, and she recently held a memorial service in his honor.
While the ads portray a rosy picture, Ancestry can't guarantee the stories you find will be heartwarming. What's the truth for an average subscriber? Some stories you turn up may be skeletons that would have better been left where they rested. Should Ancestry and other subscriptions come with a warning label?

An end, and a beginning

The end happened 172 years ago today when legislation passed in the British Parliament abolishing the pillory. Read the article and a lot more including this item on that other medieval instrument of punishment, the ducking stool, in the online version of Chambers' Book of Days.

The day following, 1 July 1837, was the beginning of civil registration in England and Wales, exactly thirty years before the day Canada ceased being a colony.

29 June 2009

BBC article on African Roots

The BBC has an article, Americans seek their African roots, on DNA testing of black Americans. The article states that "Of the half a million Americans who have purchased DNA tests, around 35,000 of them are African American."

The article reports criticism of African Ancestry, the only black-owned DNA testing firm and the first to cater specifically to African Americans. Professor Deborah Bolnick of the University of Texas is quoted as being particularly critical of African Ancestry reacting to the company claim of being "the only company whose tests will place your African ancestry in a present day country or region in Africa" with the comment "It's really much more uncertain than the testing companies make out."

In my view its unfortunate that North American media have gone overboard in taking the results of these tests, which should be expressed in probabilistic terms, and running with the most likely indicated origin to make it seem certainty. That goes for most if not all such regional origin type conclusions, not just for blacks.

Canada Day freebies

Elizabeth Laporte's Canada Genealogy blog reports that Ancestry.ca will be giving free access to their passenger list database around Canada Day. Read Elizabeth's post here.

If your Canada Day in Ottawa is a family event Library and Archives Canada will contribute to the celebrations with live music, clowns, face painting and more from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

28 June 2009

Great value - now get it in person and online

Family history is a great value as a hobby. You get access to marvellous resources free for the asking through local archives, Family History Centres and public libraries. Online there are free resources, like familysearch.org, too numerous to list individually here. Many societies don't charge to attend regular monthly presentations, although you can wear out your welcome if you continue to freeload.

The things that aren't free, but organized by non-profit societies, are usually great value. Two are coming up in Ottawa.

I've already mentioned John Grenham's talks at Ottawa's Centrepointe on August 9. More information here.

Online registration just became available for BIFHSGO's annual conference, 18 - 20 September 2009, being held again this year at Library and Archives Canada. More information and registration here.

27 June 2009

The world's oldest man

First World War Royal Naval Air Service veteran Henry William Allingham has been recognized as the world's oldest man by Guinness World Records.

Born 6 June 1896 in Clapton, in the East End of London, he not only survived a childhood as an orphan, his father having died before he was born, but also service during the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele), and the Battle of Jutland.

He is one of only two surviving British soldiers from the First World War, and the last surviving founding member of the RAF.

26 June 2009

Ancestry.ca updates passenger lists

It's good to see updates and corrections being made to existing databases. Some improvements go on routinely, I know as from time to time I get a note about corrections I suggest having been implemented. In this case Ancestry.ca has done something a bit more:

1) updated the browse so that it includes vessel name - and correct several vessel names in the process. Also many of the cover\title pages for ships were not being displayed if they did not include passenger names. These images are now available, very helpful when you are trying to verify that information.

2) made corrections where there was confusion of St John, New Brunswick vs St John's, Newfoundland.

The above information is thanks to Ancestry consultant Leslie Anderson. She also mentions that the form 30As for 1919 to 1924 ocean arrivals are now scheduled for the Fall. Hopefully that's the early Fall!

25 June 2009

What should LAC do less of?

A recent comment posted is "I'm sometimes not sure whether your main criticism is of an underfunding of LAC or of the decisions which LAC staff make with respect to such funding as they have."

It goes on to ask for my ideas "about how to redistribute their funds and staff resources; can you be explicit about what you propose, including what aspects of their operations, if any, you would close or fund less?"

It's a fair question I'm not entirely equipped to answer. My perspective is as a client, and one who uses a limited amount of the LAC facility. I'm sure there's a lot of necessary work that goes on that's invisible to me. I probably only see the 10% of the iceberg that's above the waterline and seen by a client. I'm hesitant to only target parts of the 10% that I know. There's a 90% chance the part that could stand the most reduction is invisible to me.

I also suspect that, in common with virtually all of Canada's social infrastructure, LAC is underfunded.

But the organization is also under-entrepreneurial. It could generate much more revenue. TNA does. I wonder what was learned fron Natalie Ceeney's visit in September! LAC should look seriously at TNA's and other comparable organization's partnership strategies. LAC should also negotiate an agreement with central agencies (Treasury Board?) so that it can keep revenue generated. Some other line departments did it years ago.

Here are some areas that could stand reexamination or have revenue potential:

1. LAC provides a service through the Canadian Genealogy Centre where people can write in and receive individual advice and a limited amount of staff research on their personal Canadian genealogical query. In my view providing advice, as is done at the Genealogy Desk in the physical CGC, is OK but it is inappropriate to have public servants being paid by the taxpayer to conduct an individual's research for them at no change. Eliminate the tax-funded service, or charge for it at a rate that doesn't undercut the market as the LMA does. There are people listed with LAC who could conduct such research on a fee for service basis, not including me. They would be contributing income taxes and GST to the government rather than spending tax dollars. How much would be saved over a year, or how much extra income could come to government?

2. Charge prices comparable to those of other non-profit organizations for making interlibrary loans. Currently the Interlibrary loan service is free of charge.

3. Reduce the effort put into in-house exhibitions and events that get seen by a very small fraction of the Canadian public. This activity is still desirable but should be reduced in favour of increasing the availability of original records (not exhibits) remotely through the Internet.

4. Use the space freed-up above to open a bookstore or snack bar to generate additional revenue. Even better, turn the front courtyard into an atrium to accommodate these.

5. Make some aspects of the LAC web site ad supported.

6. Market and sell LAC and other merchandise, just as the Museums and National Gallery do.

24 June 2009

Times are changing in family history

Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore said recently:

The old way of doing things is over. .... The opportunities are unbelievable and unparalleled in human history.

He was speaking earlier in the week at a conference titled Canada's Digital Economy: Moving Forward

Here's an extract of the speech.

Although the Minister's topic was the digital economy it's a sure bet that Moore is bringing the same forward-looking perspective to the activities of his department, including Library and Archives Canada.

An example of just how much things are changing slapped me in the face yesterday when I set about searching the British Library set of 19th century newspapers. You can search for free and often see enough in the snippet hit to tempt you to go further and subscribe. You can buy a 24-hour pass for £6.99 allowing you to view up to 100 articles. That's less than the cost of a single civil registration certificate.

What did I find?

A complete listing, 80 names, ages and addresses of people who died in a bridge collapse I've been researching.

A detailed listing of people who died of cholera in 1854 living around the Broad Street pump in London.

A news item on one of my ancestors, I'll draw a discrete veil across the details at present but it's the biggest breakthrough in my family history so far this year.

If you haven't used online digitized newspapers to explore your family history you're only doing things the old way. If there is no digitized newspaper for your area of interest make sure those whose mandate it is to make Canada's documentary heritage accessible are aware of your expectations.

Tracing Your Irish Ancestry

In case you didn't note this before, here's a reminder about a good time to be in Ottawa in August. Note that the Speaker, John Grenham, is part of a larger Irish workshop in Toronto the previous day.

Sunday 9 August 2009 - 1:30 pm
The Chamber, Ben Franklin Place, 101 Centrepointe Dr., Ottawa.
Free Parking on site. Admission: $10/person at door.

"TRACING YOUR IRISH ANCESTRY," with John Grenham, M.A., author and professional genealogist from Dublin, IE.
Topics: "Irish Genealogy Online" and "Irish Census Substitutes." Details: www.bifhsgo.ca or 613-234-2520.

Sponsor: British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa.
Co-sponsors: Ottawa Branch/Ontario Genealogical Society; The Irish Society/National Capital Region; Monterey Inn Resort & Conference Center.


This old recording from the music section at Library and Archives Canada is about the things men tell their girl friends while courting. For Political and Bureaucratic reasons it finds an appropriate home in Ottawa.

It was mentioned during the AGM of the Friends of LAC.

The title "Cows may come, cows may go, but the bull goes on forever" (Von Tilzer; Bryan): Peerless Quartet. Columbia Graphophone A1696 (19 Jan/jan 1915), Here is the first section of the lyrics

Seated in a country lane,
Joey and his sweetheart Jane.
He whispered fond words, as true lovers will,
Watching the cows coming over the hill.
He said, "Listen, Janie dear,"
As a cow and calf drew near.
"Just as those two love, I love you," said Joe.
Then Jane smiled as she whispered low:

CHORUS 1: "Cows may come; cows may go,
But the bull will go on forever.

23 June 2009

The Gentleman's Magazine Library

In the new items listing for Ancestry last week was The Gentleman's Magazine Library, 1731-1868.

The database is described as containing “a classified collection of the chief contents of the Gentleman’s Magazine from 1731 to 1868.” Excerpts from the original publications containing local history and information, topographical details, and family history are presented here, organized into volumes by county. Information is provided on the counties generally, but also includes information on townships.

In addition, there are three volumes that cover specific historical and cultural topics: (1) Dialetcs, Proverbs, and Word-lore, (2) Popular Superstitions, and (3) Manners and Customs."

It isn't the full text of the magazine but described as The Gentleman's Magazine Library 1731-1868. Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1891 with George Laurence Gomme, a well known British folklorist and historian, as editor.

Even if you don't have an Ancestry subscription you can get access to many issues of The Gentleman's Magazine, 504 in fact, found by a search in The Internet Archive (texts). Unfortunately you can't tell immediately the issue, or even the year for each hit, but you do get the full issue.

22 June 2009

Will it blend? Irish 1871 census fragment

Given that early Irish census data is as scarce as a digitized newspaper from LAC I was interested to find a posting of the Drumconra & Loughbracken, Co, Meath, Ireland : Census 1871. It's in the form of a Google spreadsheet.

I don't know how legitimate it is and whether it would blend with other information. Caveat emptor. The comments column includes occasional remarks not usually found in an offical census including on religion, Quack Doctor, Fond of a drop, Beats his Wife, Fond of a Glass, an Idle Boy, and Keeps a Card-table.

21 June 2009

Burial clubs - the unfriendly societies

Another presentation well worth listening to, by Audrey Collins, has recently been posted in the TNA podcast series. The talk provides background on these clubs, organized so that people don't suffer the indignity of a pauper funeral, gives details of documented cases and statistical evidence of abuse in 19th century England where people were murdered for the payment. Not pleasant, but reality.

May we have the show notes posted please?

20 June 2009

Free BMD updated

This index to England and Wales BMD registrations has just been updated. Transcription is ongoing for the 1930s and later with a few significant gaps still remaining for marriage and death registrations in earlier years.

More US newspapers online at Chronicling America

Dick Eastman's blog carries news of a massive extension of the newspapers available through the Library of Congress Chronicling America project. It was ironic as I read the item having just arrived home from the Library and Archives Canada Services Advisory Board meeting where one of the main topics raised by members was LAC's chronic neglect of Canadian newspapers.

19 June 2009

Ancestry.ca's census webinar

I missed the first few minutes of this presentation which started at 8:30 pm EDT on Thursday June 18 joining just as Lesley Anderson and Glenn Wright started into their presentation. Having heard a good part of it at the Ottawa FHC earlier in the year there wasn't a lot new for me. It was solid material, especially for those not familiar with the details of the Canadian censuses from 1851/2 now indexed at Ancestry.ca.

I'd like to have had the presentation include some search cases. Although tips and tricks were mentioned it's better to see them in action. There was enough material in the presentation as it was so maybe that's for part two.

There was an opportunity to feedback on several questions during the presentation. I was surprised than 60% of those responding had ancestors who came from the UK.

The area most in need of improvement was the sound quality. Although still comprehensible it wasn't good for any of the speakers, especially for Lesley which had noise and an occasional echo.

Thanks to Ancestry.ca for trying this venture. Compared to TNA's podcasts it certainly helps having the visuals. And where's LAC?

Apparently the presentation will be archived and available for watching/listening on demard in a few days.

18 June 2009

More digitized British newspapers coming this year

Chris Paton on his blog posts an item giving links to a BBC interview in which Ed King of the British Newspaper Library, part of the British Library, confirms that more content will be added to the existing 2 million pages they currently have online. The interview expands on how digitized newspapers help democratize history, while also commenting on the context that's lost when researchers don't have access to the originals.

In the meantime the news of similar progress from Library and Archives Canada is 0.

1911 census records for Channel Islands and Isle of Man and military serving overseas now online

The following press release is from Find My Past.

* Records for Wales, Channel Islands and Isle of Man and military
serving overseas now online

Following the initial release of the Southern English records in January
2009, 1911census.co.uk now hosts the complete 1911 census records for
people living in England, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of
Man. What's more, for the first time in a British census, full details
are available of British Army personnel and their families stationed
overseas. There were 135,866 people serving in the British Army and
36,804 people serving in the Royal Navy across the British Empire in
1911, including 69,785 serving in India.

The 1911census.co.uk website service has been developed by UK-based
family history website findmypast.com, owned by brightsolid, in
association with The National Archives. Completed by 36 million
householders on Sunday, 2 April 1911, the census records show the name,
age, place of birth, marital status and occupation of every resident in
every home as well as their relationship to the head of the household
and the online records include images of our ancestors' own handwriting.
For the first time the enumerators' summary books for the whole of
England and Wales have also gone online today, recording details of all
properties in the country in 1911 - a great resource for anyone
interested in local history or house histories. The 1911 census records
have been released three years earlier than the scheduled 2012 date as a
result of public demand for the 1911 census, which will be a key
resource for family historians.*

Debra Chatfield, Marketing Manager at findmypast.com, says: '"We're
delighted that the final records from the 1911 census have been
published online including the military records and the records for
Wales, the Isle of Man and Channel Islands. We hope people of all ages
will gain a huge amount of valuable information about their ancestors by
consulting the records and that they'll discover new chapters of their
family history that they previously knew very little or nothing about."

Oliver Morley, Director of Customer and Business Development at The
National Archives, commented: "It's wonderful to see that so many people
are discovering a new passion for family history through the 1911
census. Bringing this project to completion has been one of the most
exciting events for us this year, and to know that so many people have
been able to access part of their personal history online shows how
valuable it can be to make these records available via the web."

Reminder: Canada Census Webinar tonight

Tonight June 18th, 2009 at 8:30pm EDT. you can catch Lesley Anderson and Glenn Wright walk through the history of the Canadian Census courtesy of Ancestry.ca. They’ll tackle tips and information covering each Census year - 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1906, 1911 and 1916. You do need to register.

Check it out, and let other organizations, like LAC, know of the power of this medium to help meet their educational remit.

17 June 2009

Genealogy volunteers needed, and rewarded

According to a Statistics Canada publication just released almost 12.5 million Canadians or 46% of the population aged 15 and over volunteer in some capacity. Canadians volunteered almost 2.1 billion hours in 2007 – the equivalent of close to 1.1 million full-time jobs.

Those individuals who contribute the most hours are more likely to be seniors, to have higher levels of education, lower household incomes, no children in the household. People volunteer to make a contribution to the community, to use and expand skills and experiences, help an organization in which they have a personal interest, to network with or meet people, or because friends volunteered.

Asked what kept them from volunteering more people cited the lack of time as a barrier
and over half reported that they were unable to make a long-term commitment to volunteering. Many individuals indicated that they did not volunteer more or volunteer at all because they were not asked. Other barriers included not knowing how to become involved and the financial costs associated with volunteering.

Every genealogy society relies on and is for ever appealing for volunteers. I heard that last evening at the OGS Ottawa Branch AGM, and last Saturday at the BIFHSGO AGM. Each event mentioned Board positions that remained vacant. Multiple tasks, some not very time consuming, were looking for willing minds and hands.

Both those AGMs also recognized volunteers by mention, and by presentation for people who have made especially significant contributions. Prior to last evening's OGS meeting a City of Ottawa committee on which I serve recommended a long-time volunteer for provincial recognition.

According to Volunteer Canada recognition programs that typically work are those which:

  • Base rewards on an appreciation of the individual volunteer as a unique person and which addresses individual needs.
  • Are based on individual jobs or tasks.
  • Have consistent reward policies, resulting in a sense of trust that effort will receive the proper reward.
  • Recognize longevity and special contributions frequently.
  • Offer rewards which can be shared by teams of volunteers or the entire organization.
On the latter point I was interested to learn of a genealogy society in the UK that rewards their volunteers by an invitation to an exclusive genealogy lecture.

How does your genealogy or family history society recognize its volunteers? Have you gone beyond the certificate, pin or plaque?

16 June 2009

TV genealogy

Plans are announced for a new series of six 60 minute episodes of the UK version of Who Do You Think You Are? to run this summer.

Meantime there is no indication the CBC is considering renewing the Canadian series, and NBC has yet to announce a date for showing the US version.

History Television Canada, which is profitable but has its own problems as a component of the financially troubled Canwest Global empire, has yet to announce whether it will renew Ancestors in the Attic.

Meanwhile if you're starving for family history on TV try Roots Television. There's more than talking head interviews. Check out especially the series of Canadian videos by Alannah Ryane.

Ed Kipp at OGS Ottawa Branch monthly meeting

OGS Ottawa Branch monthly meeting is today, Tuesday, 16 June at 7:30 pm at Library and Archives Canada.

The speaker is
well known local genealogist and Ottawa Branch newsletter editor Ed Kipp. Ed will speak on Finding My American Ancestors and the wonderful resources he has found researching his ancestors in New York, Long Island and New England.

Prior to the presentation is the Branch AGM. Mike More, Branch Chair, tells me "we'll make it quick."

15 June 2009

LAC Services Advisory Board to meet

On Friday 19 June the Library and Archives Canada Services Advisory Board will meet by teleconference. In common with several of my colleagues I only received the documentation for the meeting today (Monday), and now find it is posted here.

Users may be especially interested in the report on Service Improvements.

As usual I invited you to share your comments for the meeting by posting to this blog.

Blinding speed

In a front page article under the headline Database unveils forest of family names: Histories of 16 million Canadians posted online today's Ottawa Citizen reports on Ancestry.ca's 1861 and 1871 census databases, released at a Toronto press conference last Wednesday.

Is news ever travelling fast these days! Toronto to Ottawa is 350 km. In five days that's an average of 70 km/day. The news of Nelson's victory and death in the Battle of Trafalgar took 16 days to reach and be published in London, about 108 km/day. How much more technological advance can we stand?

BIFHSGO honours and awards

Last Saturday, at the Society Annual General Meeting, I was honoured to be named to the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa Hall of Fame for "outstanding service to the Society."

Awards of excellence were given to:

Carol Annett for the best article during the year in Anglo-Celtic Roots "Remembering Brockville's Scottish Orphans," published in the Fall 2008 issue;

Alison Hare for best presentation by a member at a monthly meeting during the year for "The Time of Cholera" presented on 14 February 2009.

Certificates of recognition for services to the Society were presented to Valerie Monkhouse, and announced for Stan and Kathleen Magwood.

Congratulations to each of the others recognized.

14 June 2009

Two London boroughs added to Ancestry Poor Law records

Ancestry have posted a notice that updated records from the London Metropolitan Archives are now available. It doesn't specify what's been added. The boroughs of Haringey and Greenwich now appear. There may be additional records for boroughs previously available.

The records for Haringey are of particular interest to me as they comprise Creed Registers for the Edmonton Board of Guardians in three sections, 1906-1908, 1908-1910, 1910-1913. Each register is roughly 400 pages with entries across a double page.

Ancestry provides images of the register, no indexing has been done. There are separate sections by first letter of the surname. Its a matter of trial to find the section you want. Within each section the names are not sorted alphabetically. You need to search through the entire section.

A fair bit of information is provided: date of entry, sequence number, name, age, when born, class, occupation (if any), religious creed, name of informant, address from which admitted, by whose order admitted, name and address of relative or friend, number of children at schools, whether settlement case, name of relatives contributing to maintenance with amounts paid by each, and several date of admission, date of discharge columns.

I was rewarded for my search by finding a grand-uncle recorded as entering and discharged to a hospital on the same day.

For Greenwich the records added are for Woolwich: Admission and Discharge Registers; Register of Children; and Religious Creed Registers.

13 June 2009

TNA podcast - Titanic Lives: The Crew of RMS Titanic

The TNA podcast presentation is by James Cronan, descendant of Titanic crew member and fatality Frederick Woodford. He tells the story of his ancestor and uses it to illustrate the use of sources such as crew lists, local newspapers, Titanic Fund minute books and the newly released 1911 census, to reveal the lives of the families of victims in Southampton in the aftermath of the tragedy.

This is another case where the audio-only telling of the story suffers from the lack of visual aids.

12 June 2009

BIFHSGO AGM and Great Moments

Saturday, June 13, 2009
Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington St., Ottawa.

British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO) Annual Meeting & Free Lectures. Members and non-members welcome.

9:00 am: Browse the Discovery Tables on England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales; meet family history experts; enjoy some coffee, tea, cookies.



"MURDER MOST FOUL" by Robert Brown

Free Parking: lots east of the LAC.

Info: www.bifhsgo.ca; 613 234-2520

11 June 2009

The Wainwright Star and CanGenealogy

Dave Obee is someone you want to listen to if you get the opportunity at a genealogy conference. I took the chance to do just that at the recent OGS conference in Oakville. He mentioned a new digitized newspaper web site from the Wainright, Alberta, Public Library for the Wainwright Star 1908-2006.

Wainwright has a population of a bit over 5,000. Isn't it amazing how a smallish community library can achieve things that much larger ones, like the Ottawa Public Library, serving a population more than two orders of magnitude greater, won't even attempt?

I've added a link to Dave Obee's CanGenealogy web site to the links. Here's a quick tip. If you've forgotten where it was you found that site when researching your Canadian family history chances are you'll find it, and more, on the clearly laid out pages at CanGenealogy. It's worth bookmarking.

10 June 2009

Webinar - The Canadian Historical Censuses, 1851-1916

File this under local Ottawa genealogists step into the spotlight.

Webinar - Register today
The Canadian Historical Censuses, 1851-1916
Come join our Ancestry.ca specialists - Lesley Anderson and Glenn Wright - as they walk through the history of the Canadian Census. They’ll tackle tips and information covering each Census year - 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1906, 1911 and 1916.

June 18th, 8:30pm EST (sic, but I maybe they mean EDT). Register Now

FamilySearch adds 1861 and 1871 Canadian census indexes

You can now access, for FREE, indexes to the pre-confederation 1861 censuses for Canada West (Ontario), Canada East (Quebec), New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and 1871 for all of e ththen existing Canada. Scroll down on this page to find them. Note that the entries are not (yet?) image linked.

Further information is in the FamilySearch news release copied below.

FamilySearch Expands Canadian Census Collection

Four pre-1900 censuses available for free online

TORONTO—FamilySearch, in partnership with Ancestry.ca and the Libraries and Archives Canada (LAC), announced today the addition of the 1851, 1861, and 1871 Canada Census indexes to its online collection. The new indexes can be searched for free at FamilySearch.org (click Search Records, and then click Record Search pilot). FamilySearch published the 1881 Canada Census previously online and plans to add the 1891 Canada Census shortly.

Over a fourth of all Canadians struggle to trace their roots past 100 years. Having the indexes to all of the pre-1900 Canadian censuses online will make it much easier for Canadians to extend their understanding of their family’s history.

These censuses are part of the FamilySearch records access program reported in May 2008 to provide public access to more records more quickly. In this project, Ancestry.ca provided the indexes to the 1851 and 1891 Canada Censuses, and FamilySearch created the indexes for the 1861, 1871, and 1881 Canada Censuses. It is a win-win for the public, who will have free access to all five of the pre-1900 census indexes online at FamilySearch.org.

FamilySearch used its growing community of online volunteers to index the 1861 and 1871 Census records. For the past year, volunteers have logged online to FamilySearch’s indexing application from all over the world, working seven days a week, 24 hours a day—literally—to accomplish the feat. Thousands of volunteer hours later, coupled with the added indexes from Ancestry.ca, the public now has free, easily searchable databases of millions of Canadian citizens from 1851 to 1891.

“The publication of free indexes to these major censuses gives a great boost to Canadian family history research. For the first time, genealogy enthusiasts and historians may search online databases containing some 17 million records of individuals who lived in Canada in the latter half of the 19th century. Indexers keyed many personal details—names, ages, birthplaces, religions, and residences—for individuals listed in these early Canadian censuses,” said FamilySearch chief genealogical officer, David Rencher.

Researchers will discover heads of households, their family members, and any lodgers residing with a family at the time. They can also see the street address where ancestors were living at the time the census was taken, along with their age, occupation, and perhaps their ethnicity.

Free access to the indexes for the 19th century collection of Canada Censuses is the first phase. Free access to the record images will also be available to qualified FamilySearch members as soon as an authentication process is implemented.

The 1881 Canada Census was published on FamilySearch.org in 2002. The 1916 Canada Census was also made available for free to the public earlier this year through FamilySearch’s 4,600 family history centers worldwide.

Canadian census index on Ancestry now virtually complete

They appeared online overnight, even before the launch event in Toronto! Most Canadian genealogists will rejoice at the release of virtually complete census indexes for 1861, and 1871. They're image linked so you get to see the original, and make your own interpretation of the handwriting.

The whole suite of major Canadian censuses, not including the special situation of Newfoundland, from 1851 to 1916 is now available at Ancestry.ca making for convenient one stop searching.

The following information on these new additions is drawn from the Ancestry description.

For both 1861 and 1871 Ancestry is using an every-name index provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Images are reproduced from microfilm of Library and Archives Canada.

The 1861 Census of Canada is a collection of five provincial censuses taken at different times of the year in the different provinces:
New Brunswick, nominally taken on
August 15th, 1861
Nova Scotia, nominally March 30th, 1861
Prince Edward Island, taken on or before June 15th, 1861
Canada East (Lower Canada, or roughly southern Quebec), and Canada West (Upper Canada, or roughly southern Ontario) taken on
Sunday, January 13th, 1861

Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island only recorded the names of the heads of households, while New Brunswick, Canada East and Canada West recorded the names of everyone in the household.

Missing records for the Ontario (Upper Canada) townships of South Dumfries, Oakland, Tuscarora, and Onondaga, and the village of Paris in Brant County. These records will be added in a future update.

The 1871 census, the first after Confederation in 1867, includes the four original provinces – Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario. The census date was April 2nd, 1871.

Currently missing is LAC microfilm roll number C-10389 covering the following sub-districts in the district of Northumberland (no. 184) in New Brunswick: c-1 (Northesk, from schedule 4) to c-3 (Northesk); d-1 to d-2 (Ludlow); e-1 to e-2 (Blissfield); f-1 to f-2 (Blackville); g (Derby); h-1 to h-2 (Nelson); i-1 to i-3 (Chatham, to schedule 7).

Ancestry have also added an image linked index to the 1881 census to complete the set. Previously a reasonably complete transcription of 1881 has been available through familysearch.org.

The 1881 census, nominally for April 4th, 1881, includes seven provinces - British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec – and the Northwest Territories, which at the time consisted of modern-day Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, northern Ontario, northern Quebec, Labrador, Yukon, Nunavut, and Northwest Territories.

For every census index the immediate question is, how good is it? One would suspect that as these were compiled by volunteers using the Familysearch online indexing protocol there is a good chance people with local knowledge did the indexing. I know from personal experience that in the few of these records I indexed I went to some pains to cross check with the old head of household index for Ontario for 1871.

I made a quick check, thanks to an advance peek at these additions (thank you Ancestry) looking at the first names recorded for people with last name Wiggins. That's an insignificant sample but indicates the index is credible if not perfect. I found names Catherine indexed as Catherinr, Catherin and Cathrine, not unreasonable if you typed what you saw. I'd hoped alternatives with a standardized spelling would also be provided.

What's the quid pro quo with Familysearch is for allowing Ancestry to use their indexes which were produced by volunteers? There must be something as Familysearch would surely understand volunteers screaming if their unpaid efforts were just being used to benefit Ancestry's owners and subscribers.

Although most will rejoice at this new facility the joy will be muted for societies and others that have sold their own transcripts of these census records, and will now see another segment of that market virtually dry up.

09 June 2009

Liverpool History Projects

If you have Liverpool ancestors, especially if they were Roman Catholic, Liverpool History Projects is a site you'll want to visit and watch as it develops.

As the site explains:

This site has been set up by a group of regular users of Liverpool Record Office. Over the years and decades we have accumulated between us a small mountain of paper, including many transcripts, extracts, indexes, databases and finding aids that we intend to upload to this site in the hope that they will be of use to genealogists, family historians and anyone interested in the history of Liverpool. This will be an on-going process and much of the data is currently being made ready for upload so please keep checking back for new additions.

A lot of the information is free, some is indexes with a modest change for more detail.

LAC orders-in-council database update

LAC announce an update to their research tool providing access to orders-in-council (OIC) from the date of Canada's modern inception on July 1, 1867 to 1910.

Orders-in-council are a legislative instrument that address a wide range of administrative and legislative matters, from civil service staffing to capital punishment, and from the disposition of Aboriginal lands to the maintenance of the Parliamentary Library.

Many OICs include personal names. For example, in a search on Wiggins I found reference to E Stone Wiggins receiving a Civil Service appointment, and a promotion, his brother receiving a pension for his part in the 1885 North West Rebellion and his uncle's appointment as a lighthouse keeper. Each entry is linked to an image of the original document.

The period of the extension of the time period covered by these OICs isn't specified for this update. The promise is made that "regular updates will extend the temporal range of these records through to the mid-20th century." That's welcome -- we don't have to wait for the whole thing to be complete before we see any of it.

1911 Census of Wales

The following press release was issued by FindMyPast.com

* Online access to the records of 2.4 million people living in Wales in 1911
* Major new family history resource

2.4 million people were recorded living in Wales in the census taken on the night of Sunday, 2 April, 1911. Today, after nearly 100 years, the Welsh census records are available to the public at www.1911census.co.uk.

Due to public demand for access to the 1911 census, the records have been released as soon as each region's records have been digitised. Following the initial release of 1911 records in January 2009, the records of people living in Wales in 1911 are being made available today for the first time.

The 1911 census records contain details about the lives of the ancestors of many of Wales' famous sons and daughters, such as Richard Burton, Dylan Thomas, Kylie Minogue and Tom Jones.

The census covered Wales, England, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, as well as recording those aboard Royal Naval and Merchant vessels at sea and in foreign ports and, for the first time in a British census, full details of British Army personnel and their families in military establishments overseas. It is the most detailed census since UK records began and the first for which the original census schedules have been preserved - complete with our ancestors' own handwriting - providing a fascinating insight into British society nearly a century ago.

www.1911census.co.uk is easy to access and enables the public to view high quality colour images of their ancestors' original handwritten census returns. Transcribed text versions of the records ensure they are fully searchable by name or address.

Public demand for the 1911 census, which will be a key resource for family historians, has resulted in the records being released earlier than the scheduled 2012 date. To make this early online release to the public possible, the 1911 census team worked around the clock for two years - scanning on average one census page per second. In line with data protection legislation, certain sensitive information relating to infirmity and to children of women prisoners will be held back until 2012.

Comprehensive and rigorously tested, www.1911census.co.uk has been developed by UK-based family history website findmypast.com, owned by brightsolid, in association with The National Archives.

Debra Chatfield, Marketing Manager at findmypast.com, said: "This latest release from the 1911 census offers a crucial new entry point to Welsh family history research for a wide range of people, from novice family historians to seasoned genealogists who have hit a 'wall' in their family tree research. As well as helping people trace their Welsh ancestors, these records shed more light on our predecessors' day-to-day lifestyles, providing a snapshot of a day in their lives, with details of their occupations, housing arrangements and social status."

The 1911 census is huge - occupying over two kilometres of shelving - an incredible eight million paper census returns have been transcribed to create over 16 million digital images. This makes the 1911 census one of the biggest digitisation projects ever undertaken by The National Archives in association with a commercial partner.

Oliver Morley, Director of Customer and Business Development at The National Archives, commented: "This is a major achievement. By teaming up with findmypast.com, we are bringing history to life for millions. This remarkable record is available online to researchers and family historians all over the world for future generations. The 1911 census is a poignant reflection of how different life was in early 20 century Wales, before the Great War."

Handwritten records
Completed by all householders in Wales and England on Sunday, 2 April 1911, the census records show the name, age, place of birth, marital status and occupation of every resident in every home, as well as their relationship to the head of the household.

People will also have unique access to their ancestors' handwriting as the original householders' schedules were preserved and used as working documents rather than copying the details in to summary books as was the case in previous census years. The launch of the records also creates a starting point for people to trace their own family tree by looking up their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents who were alive in the year 1911.

'Fertility Census'
The 1911 census was the first to ask questions relating to fertility in marriage. Married women were asked to state how long they had been married and how many children had been born from that marriage. The census also provides a fascinating snapshot of the population of the country just a few years before a whole generation of young men perished in the Great War of 1914-1918.

How to use the 1911 Census records

* Log on to www.1911census.co.uk and register for free
* Search for an ancestor in 1911 by entering their name
* If the name is common you can enter their approximate year of birth, which will help to narrow down the results
* Search for an address to look up the history of your house or an ancestor's address in 1911
* Pay as you go to view each record. You will be charged 10 credits per transcript and 30 credits for each original household page. Visitors to the website can buy 60 credits for £6.95.
* Findmypast.com vouchers are also valid on 1911census.co.uk. Vouchers can be purchased from The National Archives bookshop and redeemed on findmypast.com. Credits can then be spent on both findmypast.com and 1911census.co.uk.
* For more information about using the 1911 census for family history research, 'Census: The Expert Guide' by Peter Christian and David Annal is available from The National Archives online bookshop at www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

LAC's monograph moratorium

I finally received a call back regarding the following note posted on the LAC web site.

"Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has established valued relationships with stakeholders and clients and has, over the years, built a significant national collection of documentary heritage. With recently announced changes in the Senior Management at LAC we are undertaking a review of our acquisitions policies to better ensure that citizen and stakeholder needs are met.

Therefore, LAC has recently put in place a moratorium on all purchased acquisitions. As of today:

- All LAC orders for monographs are cancelled. Please do not ship us any new material. LAC will accept all items in transit that were shipped to LAC prior to receipt of this message.

- LAC is also reviewing whether it will pursue the acquisition of subscriptions, standing orders and memberships.

If you would like more information, please contact Ms. Chantal Marin-Comeau, Director of Acquisitions. She can be reached by telephone at (819) 997-7003 or by e-mail chantal.marin-comeau@lac-bac.gc.ca"

Ms Marin-Comeau explained that the more than 1 week delay in returning my calls was that she had been away and there was nobody else to respond. Wouldn't a truly service-oriented organization refrain from putting out such a note without having a back-up spokesperson?

In response to my questions Ms Marin-Comeau explained that the moratorium is largely impacting books. She said it should be short-term, without defining it, and the whole review is not financially driven. It was unclear why a moratorium, seemingly imposed suddenly without any consideration of the impact on suppliers or users, was necessary.

The review is supposed to be comprehensive involving all acquisitions, including newspapers, databases and subscriptions; even the magazines purchased for display in the Canadian Genealogy Centre. Asked how long the review will take she was again unwilling to specify a time frame, but it appears it may be complete this fiscal year.

I stressed the importance of LAC as a source for inter-library loans and asked how users would be consulted on any proposed change. It was unclear what mechanism would be used that would gather the views of users as well as suppliers from across the country.

On newspapers, and digital newspapers, I pointed out the sad state of access at LAC, especially with there being no champion for newspapers at LAC. The newly available Winnipeg Free Press digital archive is not available. Neither is The Times which reflects the British perspective which governed during the time before Confederation and is available at many Canadian university and some public libraries.

I was sent a copy of an article from Le Devoir which reports on the moratorium. but gives a slant toward electronic publications that I didn't get from my conversation. My rough translation of the final paragraph:

LAC has set up a working group to analyze its acquisition policy, and to update its methods of conservation of electronic products. According to Jean-Stéphen Piché, the number of electronic publications doubles each year. “It is hoped the moratorium will be as short as possible” he said.

08 June 2009

1911 census for Wales

A note from TNA informs that the 1911 census records for Wales should be available later this week.

Experience with the OGS IOOF insurance papers database

As reported previously, the Ontario Genealogical Society has made available online as a membership benefit access to an index to a database of Independent Order of Foresters Insurance Papers.

In the most recent OGS Toronto Branch electronic bulletin Linda Reid (no relation) writes about the experience of a Branch member Vera Reed who purchased copies of two IOOF applications for two generations of ancestors with the surname King: Dr. Edmund Eleazar King and Josiah Brown King.

I thank Linda for allowing me to reproduce that report here.

"A search on the surname "King" brings up "Buckingham" and some other names that include the letters "king" before the entries for "King" itself. The entries appear to be in order of policy number, but these don't give a chronological order.

There are three occurrences for Edmund Eleazar King:

1. on page [i.e. screen] 5 King, Edmund E., born 13 April 1862, application from Toronto, policy 1198, policy date 10 December 1890

2. on page 6 King, Edmund E., born 13 April 1862, application from Toronto, policy 2634, policy date 29 December 1890

3. on page 7 King, Edward [sic] Eleazar, born 13 April 1862, application from Toronto, policy 5277, policy date 29 December 1890

For Josiah Brown King , there are two applications. Note that the policy with the higher number predates the one with the lower number:

1. on page 1 King, Josiah Brown, born 4 July 1836, application from Toronto, application 1323, application date 29 March 1886

2. on page 2 King, Josiah Brown, born 4 July 1856 [not 1836!], application from Toronto, application 3050, application date 23 November 1885

Not wanting to pay $10.80 times 5, Vera ordered the first application for each man and hoped for the best.

Edmund's policy 1198 turned out to be a class C application and besides the usual information about date of birth, occupation etc. it gives the ages (but not names) of the living siblings and the cause of death for the deceased siblings. It gives the ages of his parents (no names) and the fact that they were in good health. To the question of "which parent do you resemble most?" Edmund said "cannot say". His spouse was the beneficiary and she is named. The medical/health information, the reason that access is restricted, is very limited. During the previous 12 months Edmund had "La Grippe / Mild attack". One page is headed "medical examiner's certificate" and it is completely blank except for "See application Class A" scrawled across it. Vera wonders which of the other two applications for Edmund might be class A.

For Josiah policy 1323 is a class B application and has no information on siblings or parents. The beneficiary is the spouse and she is named. During the previous 12 months he was under treatment by a physician for a slight injury from a piece of falling ice."

Linda comments "Some of us thought that access to the IOOF applications was going to be a member benefit so it is disappointing to get only as far as the index for free. The full information can be very limited and it is frustrating (and costly) when there is more than one application for a single individual all made around the same time. If anyone orders multiple applications for one person, please share whether you see a pattern as to what is class A, B or C and which one has the fullest information or is most useful. One wonders what the order was in the books that have been taken apart and what significance it had."

To add to Linda's comments, as the amount of information you get for your $10.80 appears to vary depending on the type of form OGS might be more precise than the current description "the actual form contains a great deal of information: health information, marital status, occupation, beneficiary (usually wife, parent, or sibling), number of siblings, and a health status of siblings, parents, and grandparents (often including age at death but not including names)."

07 June 2009

Instruments of development

One of my father's desk drawers held some fascinating instruments, including a slide rule and a micrometer screw gauge. I don't ever recall him using them. He'd been a marine engineer during the war so I suspect he just found it hard to dispose of the tools of his former trade, tools which were likely significant investments when he bought them.

I recall feeling challenged by the sense of fields yet to discover in the precisely engraved scales on the slide rule, even though through my first school years they were a mystery.

Gradually through grammar school I learnt their meaning, how to use them, and acquired my own slide rules. They saw me through university. There I also had access to a hand cranked mechanical calculator and even an early computer, the Elliott 803.

It wasn't until the early 1970s that I first saw a personal calculator, at Eaton's in Winnipeg. As I recall it performed addition, subtraction, multiplication and division and cost over $200. I drooled in a way reserved for genetically programmed early adopters, but did not buy. That waited until 3-4 years later when I acquired an HP-55 scientific calculator with 49 steps programming capability, still in my home today.

In retrospect it seems likely that my father's instruments kept in that drawer were a stimulus for me in developing an interest in science. How much did the detritus of your parent's earlier life influence your life path?

06 June 2009

BIFHSGO annual conference: 18-20 Sept 2009

The British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa conference is coming up, and, as usual, there are speakers I'm particularly looking forward to hearing.

Charlotte Gray is a British-born Canadian who will be giving the Friday evening Whiteside lecture on The women in Sir John A. Macdonald's life.

Duncan Macniven is the Registrar General for Scotland who will speak on Scotland's demographic history since Victorian times, and How to find your own Scottish ancestors.

Colleen Fitzpatrick, originally from New Orleans and now California, who I enjoyed at the recent NEGS conference and thoroughly recommend, will speak on Forensic genealogy, Mining databases, DNA and genealogy and a Case study (perhaps the Hand in the Snow which has an Irish connection.)

For more information and registration click on the conference link from the BIFHSGO home page.

05 June 2009

Paper of Record content on Google News Archive Search

Following much frustration Google have finally posted a clarification of the situation regarding the content the company purchased from Paper of Record (Cold North Wind). The good news is that much of the content is available through Google news archive search. Some of the material requires further processing, promised in the next three months. The bad news is that some titles, including the Sporting News, Temiskaming Speaker and The Perth Courier, will not be coming to Google.

The substantive part of the announcement is copied below.


Many of you have asked about our specific plans regarding newspapers originally digitized by Paper of Record. We wanted to give you an update on our progress, and to clear up some misunderstandings. As part of our ongoing efforts to make more old newspapers accessible and searchable online, we acquired a number of titles from Paper of Record. Most of the titles that we acquired from Paper of Record are online and fully searchable. In fact, in many cases we digitized the content again to improve the quality of the images and the OCR.

However, there are some titles provided by Paper of Record that currently are not live on Google News Archive Search.
For those titles we have the right to display, we're in the process of bringing them online and making them viewable via Google News Archive, along with other sources we've digitized or crawled from the web. That means that if you're looking for material originally acquired by Paper of Record, it likely falls into one of three groups:

*4.91M articles
representing 522 titles obtained from Paper of Record are now live on Google News Archive search. This includes previously live content as well as content added as of this week from Paper of Record, all free of charge. Please note that all articles from these titles may not be comprehensively available, but will otherwise be made available in browse-only mode within 3 months. The full list is here [2].

*~0.5M pages representing 381 titles
obtained from Paper of Record will be made available in browse-only mode within 3 months, also free of charge. The full title list is here [3]. Many of the images we obtained were of low quality, and we were therefore unable to get quality text after following the OCR process. We are working to put up content from these titles so that they can be browsed.

*Finally, for these 10 titles here [4], we don't have the rights to display these newspapers. We've reached out to the publishers who hold rights to these papers, but not all want to participate in Google's programs. To access these, you may need to travel to a library if you can't find an online source, or contact the publisher directly.

Click here [5] for more information on how to find specific titles in the archive. We will also be soon rolling out direct search which will allow the user to search and browse through newspaper titles directly.

We have heard the concerns voiced by members of the research community, and know how important this content is to users. We apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced. We're committed to providing a comprehensive index of archived newspaper content and to making the content acquired by Paper of Record available to our users.


04 June 2009

Proposed changes at TNA

The (UK) National Archives have posted the following notice:

We will be closed to the public at Kew for the afternoon of Monday 29 June from 14:00.

This is to enable us to brief all staff on a number of proposed changes at The National Archives.

You are invited to attend one of our open information meetings where Jeff James, Director of Public Services, will take you through these proposals. The meetings will take place at Kew:

• 12:15 on Thursday 2 July in the talks room, first floor reading room
• 10:00 on Saturday 11 July in the talks room, first floor reading room

We will be publishing this information on nationalarchives.gov.uk on 2 July 2009, for those unable to attend either meeting.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

It remains to be seen whether these proposed changes are good or bad for clients, but kudos to TNA for posting a notice and scheduling meetings. It isn't clear to what extent these are for information or consultation. I'd guess they're things TNA would like to implement unless they get a highly adverse reaction. You might want to stay alert to changes, especially if you plan a visit this summer.

03 June 2009

OCAPG meets at OGS Conference

Members of the Ontario Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists seemed to be in a happy mood at their meeting last Sunday at the Ontario Genealogical Society conference. From left to right they are: Nancy Trimble, Sue de Groot, Brenda Dougall Merriman, Sharon Murphy, Ruth Blair*, Janet Iles*, Janice Nickerson, Francine Mulherin, and Kathleen O'Brien. * are in both photos. Several other members were at the conference but speaking or otherwise engaged at the time. A full list of members is here.

I understand one of the topics of discussion was arranging for another high-profile lecturer to visit Toronto for a full day presentation, much as John Colletta did last year. They have a person in mind but the arrangements are not complete. I'd hoped the name would have shown on the pad in the photo, but no luck. The event isn't likely to be until 2011.

The Past Present and Future of Libraries for Family History

I particularly enjoyed the final presentation I attended at the OGS Conference in Oakville, given by Marian Press. It was based on a talk she prepared for last year's BIFHSGO conference, at which time it was sponsored by the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library. She quickly skipped over the past, represented by the stereotypical bun lady.

All the web sites she referred to as examples of good library service are on Delicious here.

Some specific sites mentioned were:

Clare County (Ireland) Library

Flickr: The Commons

The Internet Archive (Texts)

Libweb - for finding public library web sites


02 June 2009

Tracing Your Irish Ancestry - Ottawa

The following is an announcement received from BIFHSGO


Sunday 9 August 2009

Ben Franklin Place, Centrepointe Council Chambers, 101 Centrepointe Drive, Ottawa, ON

The British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO) presents

TRACING YOUR IRISH ANCESTRY with JOHN GRENHAM, Professional Genealogist, Fellow of the Irish Genealogical Research Society, and well known author from Dublin, Ireland. Visit: www.Johngrenham.com and www.IrishTimes.com/ancestor

1:30 pm: ¨ "Chasing Shadows: Irish Genealogy Online" : Few large sets of Irish genealogical records are available online; however, there are many highly valuable local or partial record-sets, which can be difficult to track down. The presentation starts with an outline of the main Irish records and where any on-line transcripts can be found, and proceeds to guided hands-on research.

3:30 pm: ¨ "Whatever you’re having yourself: Irish Census Substitutes" : Brief summary of better-known substitutes, but focuses on more useful and lesser-known records, including: Loan Funds, Charleton Marriage Fund, agricultural surveys, official petitions and electoral records. Since the range is infinite, a complete account is impossible; the aim is to sketch the main areas in which these records are being uncovered, to show how they can be used, and to bring hope to those who have run out of the standard Irish sources.

Free admission but contributions (suggested $5/person) would be appreciated to defray costs.

Ontario Archives visit

I had the opportunity to visit the new Ontario Archives, on the campus of York University, on Monday. The frequent express bus from the subway to the York Campus stops right outside the Archives building. It should encourage using the TTC as a nearby multi-storey car park costs $2 for 30 minutes. Also discouraging parking is the dreary walk along the rear of the university shopping mall featuring garbage containers.

The Archives is an impressive facility which I'd hoped to photograph but was prohibited from doing so inside the building. I snapped the one here through the window, sorry about the reflection at the top left. Use of digital cameras is only allowed on documents.

Straight ahead in the photo is a bank of internet terminals, and behind them microfilm cabinets. To the right are work desks and counter for ordering original materials., Behind the mural to the left is an impressive and busy room with traditional microform readers and 50 computer terminal-microfilm readers, like the new ones at LAC. Each has a very large LAC display panel, very nice. Not seen to the left are the registration desk, consultation desk and the entrance from the foyer. An exhibit room, washrooms and a room for lockers and client time out are also reached from the foyer.

I was told the Archives have completed a digitization trial, and that more resources will be coming to the web site later in the year.

Also mentioned was a trial of remote microfilm access over the internet to take place soon. You would book a time to access a microfilm reader over the internet. Staff would load the film and you'd be able to control the scrolling of the film remotely and save copies. Sounds like a great idea -- LAC are you reading this?

I was disappointed there is no WiFi access -- yet. Also, and this is big, I was told by two different staff members there is no free client access to Ancestry.ca. Lesley Anderson, a consultant for Ancestry.ca, informs me the the Archives were granted free onsite access for their clients, so why isn't it available? People who've used the cumbersome multi-stage microfilm process for accessing Ontario Civil Registration records know that it should be declared cruel and unusual punishment, and the Ontario Archives charged as an accessory for not making the oh-so-easy access through Ancestry.ca freely available to their clients in the building.

01 June 2009

OGS Conference 2009 Sunday

I managed to attend two sessions on Sunday. Diseases & Yesterday's Remedies by Elizabeth and Colin Briggs covered the material advertised in the syllabus -- advances in medicinal therapy from earliest times to the nineteenth century, diseases & treatments, medical advances in the nineteenth century, medicinal treatments, old terminology, and an introduction to the material in their book on York Factory and fur trade medicine of the nineteenth century.

I was sorry to miss Sherilyn Bell's talk Tracing Traits - Physical Clues in Ontario Records and Beyond, but did have a quick chat with her about the extent of crossover in a child's DNA between the parents contributions.

The final talk I attended was by Marian Press The Past, Present and Future of Libraries for Family History. It warrants a posting of its own.